Ushering safety culture transformation

Youth worker

Informal economies engage a wide variety of manpower from different demographics around the world. Apprenticeships leading up to the promise of brighter future jobs present a unique proposition for youth between 15-24 years of age. Although the global youth labour force participation rate has declined in the last twenty years; half of the world’s youth still remain engaged in the labour market. In case of Asia and Africa, this labour market falls under the informal economy.

Rise in investment and focused programmes by nations have contributed sharply to this welcome decline. However, the Global employment Trends for Youth (2017) report by ILO, further goes onto comment that rising economies in Asia and Africa will soon reverse this trend.

Majority of on-ground semi-skilled and skilled operators employed by Indian industries have long enjoyed cheap labour force. These operators sometimes join the operations as young as sixteen and over the years, through the course of dispensing repetitive nature of their jobs, are promoted to operators.

Challenges to building safety culture

By the virtue of habit, nature of job and the frontlines at which these operators function, safety culture becomes a tough nut to crack. While the organizational vision might be aligned with safety transformation through better digital technologies supporting monitoring, reporting and analysis – training the on-ground crew can be tricky.

Unlearning habits, whether safe or unsafe, completely depends on the person demonstrating them. A qualified trainer may be explaining to them the virtues of safety and safe work procedures but due to the work experience of past ten to twenty years etched in their memories, safety might seem as overkill.

A training exercise can be taken for granted but is there a way to remedy such a situation?

EHS compliance in all aspects of activities is expected to be the new goal for any cautious industry. Companies are already paying more and more each year in arbitration costs which doesn’t bode well for the bottom line or their image.

EHS Manpower to the rescue

EHS manpower from a reliable source can buckle these trends.

First, hiring EHS manpower means that the core workforce opinion and habits are now challenged by an EHS outlook. This has been let loose amongst the other workers who may or may not see the merits of safe work procedures. However, as the work progresses and the work challenges present themselves, EHS manpower can demonstrate the value of safety to other workers. The arguments of saving time and hassle start becoming irrelevant as the projects progress.

Second, an EHS supervisor who undertakes the supervision of a mixed group of employees, can start aligning the workers who are eager to learn from the EHS methodology. Timely intervention and ‘cause-effect’ of EHS compliant work procedures is bound to make an impression. The tough ones to crack due to human behaviour will only continue to resist as far as their trusted supervisors allow them. Even a subtle change in habit from unsafe habits should be viewed as positive.

EHS manpower as a concept to enhance work performance and ensuring compliance has been applied successfully all over India. However, in time, industries start seeing this capability as a potential agent of transformation – towards safety culture.


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